Bibo Szabadegyetem Covers Love, Press Freedom and Treaty of Trianon

October 29, 2019

Bibo Szabadegyetem (Bibo Open University) is to enrol students yet again this fall. The groundbreaking initiative, launched for the first time in the spring, is a result of cooperation between the faculties of three Hungarian universities: CEU, ELTE and Corvinus University.

Designed for young Hungarians active in political parties, NGOs and in the wider political sphere, one of Bibo Szabadegyetem’s objectives is to help start a dialogue among young people from different political persuasions which in turn can raise the standard of political discourse in Hungary. The program is named after Istvan Bibo, one of the most influential Hungarian political theorists of the 20th century.

The courses in the Fall 2019 semester cover social, economic and political issues in Hungary and the European Union in a way that also incorporates historical perspectives. The aim is to strengthen connections that respect different worldviews, and all the courses of the Bibo Szabadegyetem are designed and led by researchers from different political backgrounds. In a similar vein, the initiative hopes to enrol students from different political views. The language of instruction is Hungarian.

Bibo Szabadegytem is facilitated by CEU, and professors from a number of different CEU departments are the core of the open university project. However, the university’s goal is to involve colleagues from other Hungarian universities and research institutions in designing and organizing the courses. The program is supported by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

When first launched earlier this year, Bibo Szabadegyetem ran three courses. Approximately forty students enrolled, hailing from political parties, social movements and from the colleges of advanced study.

The fall 2019 program will take place in November and December 2019. The project expects approximately 20 participants in each of the three courses-- The Politics of Happiness; One Hundred Years after Trianon; and Press Freedom in Central Eastern Europe. Each course will comprise five or six seminars.  

"The Politics of Happiness” will discuss how we can have a worldview dominated by joy and happiness in an age where anger, hate and discontent are coming at us from every direction.

The six seminars will each feature a different lecturer in a discussion of the key topics of love, mourning, body, community and family. The seminars will look for creative solutions that can help us re-think the past, present and future in a positive and affirmative way. This seminar will be led by CEU professor Andrea Peto, writer and theatre critic Andrea Tompa and CEU PhD candidate Petra Bakos.

”One Hundred Years After Trianon” will discuss the peace treaty signed by Hungary after World War I in 1920 which resulted in the country losing roughly two-thirds of its territory. In any discussion of modern Hungarian history, the Treaty of Trianon is always a key issue – be it a personal discussion, a public debate or state remembrance policy. The goal of the course is to provide a wider, regional context to the Treaty of Trianon. The course will be led by CEU professor Balazs Trencsenyi and CEU PhD candidate Laszlo Bence Bari.

”Press Freedom in Central Eastern Europe” will examine the state of the media in Hungary and the wider CEE region. The course will focus on the interaction between the media and politics, on political communication, media policy and the changes in the perceptions of a journalist’s role and will look at political pressure on the press, the role of the audience, the state of the public service media, propaganda and the role of the European Union in supporting press freedom. The course will be led by journalist Andras Stumpf, media researcher Peter Bajomi-Lazar and Benedek Javor, a former member of the European Parliament.

Cover image: Bust of Bibo Istvan in Budapest